Time for a garden tidy-up but your green bin isn’t quite going to do the trick?
Here are some tips on green waste removal options to help you face your next big garden clean up…
Use Your Green Waste Bin
If you don’t have much green waste, your council-issued green waste bin might just do the trick. This is usually the case if you stay on top of things and just have a few weeds to pull or a shrub or two that needs a light trim. Keep in mind, it might look large when empty, but can fill up after a good clean-up in just a single garden bed!
You can put the following from your garden in your green bin:
Wood (branches, pruning, etc)
It’s important to keep your green waste bin uncontaminated so it can be recycled and repurposed properly!
Skip Bins – for large amounts of Green Waste Disposal
If you are doing a big garden clean-up, and don’t have a trailer to take it to the tip yourself, you’re going to need to hire a skip bin.
Sizes usually range from 3 cubic metres to 12 cubic metres and can be hired from many companies around Perth.
This allows you, not just bigger quantities, but for larger, heavier green waste disposal. The company will take it to a registered green waste recycling/composting facility so it can be turned into compost and mulch – rather than getting tossed in landfill.
In skip bins, you can dispose of additional green waste such as:
Large tree branches/stumps
Along with the usual weeds, pruning, clippings, etc.
Skip bins can start from a few hundred dollars, but if the alternative is making multiple trips to the tip, it can be worth it in the end.
Tip – many green waste disposal facilities now won’t accept Prickly Pear cuttings so check with your skip bin company when booking.
Book a Garden Clean Up Service
Don’t want the hassle of gardening and green waste removal yourself?
As part of our Garden Cleanup and Garden Maintenance Packages, we are able to remove large quantities of green waste for you. Each of our Gardening Packages comes with an allocation of green waste removal, but if your service generates a larger quantity; e.g. after a yearly hedge trimming service or cleanup of a very overgrown and neglected garden, we can remove the extra for you.
We can also advise if it will require a full trailer load or organise a skip bin for you if it is a serious cleanup of a property that is more ‘jungle’ than garden! Either way, we will make sure that your garden is left looking healthy, well-maintained and tidy – so you don’t have to organise a thing.
Get in touch to book a gardening service today
Call our team on 08 6363 4645 to book in your garden service – we’ll take care of the clean up and remove all the green waste for you!
Here are some green waste removal FAQs…
Do you do garden clean-ups before green waste verge collection?
Yes! This is a great time to take advantage of the free green waste removal and give your hedges a good trim and your gardens a refresh! Contact us to book in for a garden clean-up before your suburb’s next collection.
How much green waste can you remove?
We travel with large trailers and can remove approximately 5m3 of green wastes at one time.
Is this a service you offer in your regular maintenance packages?
It sure is. If you have booked our team for a garden maintenance service or clean up, we will always remove the green waste generate as part of your service. Additional charges may apply.
We all need a haircut now and then. Our plants are no different!
Every living thing needs a little TLC. A regular trim, also known as pruning, is a great way to achieve this for hedges, shrubs and bushes.
Pruning can help to:
maintain a manageable height
create special shapes/growth habits (e.g. topiary, standards, espaliered plants)
remove unhealthy growth like dead/diseased branches, water shoots and suckers
improve airflow, light, and water penetration
grow better fruit and flowers
stimulate new growth
improve plant health
add ‘curbside appeal’ to your home.
For those new to pruning, knowing when and where to start, and how far to go without damaging delicate plants, can be intimidating.
Fear not! This blog post gives our top tips on how to prune hedges and bushes like an expert!
What’s the Difference Between Hedges, Bushes and Shrubs?
These terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences.
What is a Hedge?
A group of bushes or shrubs, closely planted to:
act as a fence/boundary/windbreak or
fit an aesthetic theme (e.g. formal gardens).
What is a Bush?
A small, woody plant, with dense, low-growing branches, typically up to 2.5m tall.
Bushes fill spaces, add contrast, and can be decorative showpieces!
Popular ornamentals include camelias, azaleas, and hydrangeas.
What is a Shrub?
It’s like a bush, but larger — up to 6m tall.
Shrubs can stand alone, or be massed together as hedges. They can be used to:
shelter plants, livestock or buildingsfrom sun/weather
add colour/texture/contrast to gardens
create topiary (decorative shaped bushes).
When to Trim Hedges and Shrubs in Perth
When you prune depends on the plant, and why it needs pruning — for example, appearance, manageability, or plant health.
Some pruning can be done almost anytime — for example, removing dead branches, suckers, water shoots, diseased or damaged growth.
Late winter, after the coldest weather is over, is usually best for annual pruning, especially for summer and autumn-flowering plants. This promotes healthy spring growth.
The general rule is to prune after flowering or fruiting. Spring-flowering plants are pruned after flowering ends.
Be cautious about autumn pruning though — new growth can be damaged by winter cold. Prune deciduous plants lightly soon after planting, then again in winter when dormant. Summer maintenance pruning stimulates growth. Plant evergreens in spring and trim them immediately, then biannually. Trim more frequently for a denser hedge.
Light Trimming and Tip Pruning
Light pruning suits young plants that might be damaged by hard pruning. Even before plants grow together to form a hedge, regular light trimming improves foliage density, for a well-formed hedge.
A light all-over trim using shears or a hedge-trimmer also helps to shape shrubs.
Removing deadheads and deadwood improves plant health. Trim at the 2nd or 3rd eye bud, immediately below the flower-bearing stalk.
To tip or pinch-prune, remove the ends of shoots during the growing season, pinching them out by hand. This encourages new shoots, shapely growth, and more flowers.
Moderate pruning suits established plants.
Cut healthy shoots back by about one-third of the whole plant, or half the previous year’s growth, to about 45-60cm from the base.
This stimulates more new growth than light pruning.
Hard pruning (rejuvenation pruning) can be beneficial where pruning is long overdue.
It is especially appropriate for:
plants that get badly out of control like honeysuckle
vigorous deciduous species like forsythia and viburnum
common hedging plants like privet and Japanese holly
multi-stemmed shrubs like lilacs and roses.
Hard pruning of healthy plants to about 20-30cms above the ground encourages the plant to grow into a better shape.
Avoid hard pruning of unhealthy plants, as it can send them into shock.
What Tools to Use to Trim a Hedge
You are only as good as your tools — so invest in the right tools for the job.
Buy the best you can afford to make it both easier for you and better for the hedges — ground-steel blades and gear technology can help maximise cutting power.
Secateurs: your go-to hand tool for pruning, trimming, and deadheading. Choose secateurs with a bypass blade and gears.
Hedging Snips: a light, sharp hand tool, with long flat blades — useful for fine trimming of leaves and small stems.
Lopper: long-handled secateurs for pruning high branches, tall hedges and dead wood.
Pole Pruner: a small saw/secateur, mounted on a telescopic pole (manual or powered), used for safely trimming high branches.
Hedge Shears/Clippers: long-bladed hand tool for light trimming/shaping of shrubs and straight edges (e.g hedges).
Pruning Saw: a small, sharp hand saw, for branches up to 10cm thick. The narrow blade accesses dense foliage.
Hedge Trimmer: a motorised saw, optimal for trimming large/formal hedges efficiently. Choose from petrol, mains-electric, or battery-powered options.
Chainsaw: useful for big jobs, but less precise than hedge trimmers/shears. Use very carefully to avoid injury!
For assistance with hedge-trimming, contact us at Perth Gardening Experts. We use commercial-grade electric tools — much quieter and more environmentally friendly than petrol-powered tools. And our team are experts at trimming and shaping hedges.
How to Trim Hedges Correctly
Why trim hedges correctly?
Correct trimming keeps hedges compact and attractive, and stimulates growth.
Incorrect pruning can weaken plants and look terrible.
Step 1: Prepare Your Environment
Have a plan. Consider the weather — don’t prune in wind or rain.
Ensure hand-tools are sharp and power tools are fueled/charged.
If you aren’t confident to cut by eye, set string lines to help you cut straight. Save on clean-up time by using a drop-sheet to catch clippings.
Step 2: Remove Dead and Diseased Branches
Remove dead and diseased branches first.
Cut problem limbs back to their base, or to a strong lateral branch or shoot. This stops disease from spreading further, improves nutrient uptake, and encourages growth.
Step 3: Trim and Shape the Hedge
Trim protruding branches, then fine prune, for a smooth surface appearance. Start slowly — you can always take more off later, but you can’t put anything back!
For medium-height hedges, trim sides first, from back to front, cutting vertically. Prune the top horizontally, positioning your saw at a slight angle.
For tall hedges, trim the top first, then the sides. If using a ladder, tie it to a tree, or have someone hold it.
Always hold the cutting blade close to the main stem, cutting cleanly without tearing. Cut just outside the branch collar (where the branch begins). Don’t leave stubs — these encourage pests and diseases. Make your hedge wider at the base, so sunlight can reach lower areas.
NOTE: If you aren’t comfortable climbing a ladder, call our team at Perth Gardening Experts on 08 6263 4645! Our expert staff safely prune hedges up to 3m in height.
At Perth Gardening, we know the right techniques and natural treatments required to promote healthy garden growth – without relying on toxic chemicals and harmful solutions. You can still encourage growth and deter pests the natural way – and with regular maintenance, you can have a healthy organic garden that looks great while keeping your family and pets safe and healthy.
As many of us are becoming increasingly aware of the world’s ecological footprint, the demand for organic gardening is on the rise. Many gardening product manufacturers are thinking twice about what they offer as well since their market is shifting to more eco-friendly options.
After all, using organic and natural techniques for fertilising, weeding and treating your garden not only protects the Earth, but protects your family as well.
The more we learn about the negative effects of chemical pesticides and herbicides and synthetic fertilisers, the more we want to stay away from them.
That is why we try provide earth-friendly Gardening services as much as possible, from natural lawn installation to chemical-free weed control, the use of electric tools and waterwise, native planting. If you would like a gardening service that is eco-friendly from a company that is passionate about looking after our planet – we would love to help you!
From organic fertilisers to a range of organic gardening techniques, here are our tips for organic gardening.
Our Tips for Organic Gardening
1. Non-chemical options for weed control
We try to avoid using chemical weed control options, most of those products are bad for the environment and very toxic for the person applying them. They also can pollute our water supply by running off into waterways and being absorbed into the soil. We believe in using preventive methods (mulching and regular garden care) that preserve the health of your garden, our waterways and the soil. In our packages, our gardeners will remove the weeds by hand to get the entire root, along with tools when needed – such as whippersnappers to cut them down and reduce growth by limiting their access to sunlight.
Mulching is one of the top methods for natural weed control – and as an added bonus, it also helps to improve the quality and health of the soil itself, along with reducing water evaporation so it’s great for looking after our water resources (and your water bill!) as well. Learn more about the best mulch for gardens here in our blog.
Choose a good quality mulch like Pine Bark and apply it in a good thick layer, a depth of between 50-100mm, for best results. A great thickness to aim for is 75mm to really restrict weed growth. This also means that any weeds which do grow through will be easier to pull out.
Try to stay on top of any weeds that do grow so they never get a chance to go to seed! Once they do that, you are fighting a losing battle. Let’s face it, unless you pave your entire backyard, it is a living space, so there will be growth and there will be weeds. Learn the types of weeds as well so you know where to spend your energy, for example, which are perennial (regrow season after season) and which are annual (go from seed to seed in one growing season/one year).
Planting – create competition!
Weeds need all the same nutrients that plants do, so if you have empty spaces where they are thriving – try planting something there instead! Add in groundcover or native plants so it is still low-maintenance but also looks great and takes the nutrients, water and sunlight that your weeds need. Make sure to plant them thickly so there is limited space for weeds to take over.
2. Using ‘natural’ options for fertiliser
First, why do we use fertiliser? It’s to give our plants extra nutrients. One of the biggest reasons we have to use fertilisers is that our soil itself is quite depleted and of poor quality – especially here in Perth it’s sandy soils. So the most ‘natural’ fertiliser should actually start with improving the quality of the soil. There will always be things to add for an extra boost, but if the soil is rich and healthy, your plants will be too.
Improving your soil quality
There are many ways to improve your soil and it takes work and time – but it is always worth it! Options like blood and bone or quality organic manures are a great place to start, along with adding materials that break down over time like lupin mulch. A blend of these, mixed into your soil, with a layer of clean, natural cardboard, topped with a thick layer of quality mulch, like pine bark, creates a layered, ‘green house’ effect. Give it a good soak and let it slowly work its magic, breaking down, trapping in warmth and crating its own micro-climate – eventually turning into a rich, loamy soil your plants will love!
Best natural liquid fertilisers
For a quick boost while your soil improvers work their magic, liquid fertilisers are the best way to go. Be cautious even when using natural fertiliser as often the concentration in nutrients are quite high and may leach into the waterways and pollute the soils. Our gardeners can advise on what is the best option for your garden, lawn and plants along with applying it at the right times in the right quantities for you.
Seaweed or Kelp liquid fertilisers are amazing for both plants and soil. They actually stimulate the soil itself so are the perfect complement to your soil improvement efforts.
3. Regular Garden Maintenance
One of the best ways to keep your garden healthy naturally is regular maintenance. Why?
Staying on top of your weeds so they don’t get a chance to seed, means that you don’t have to eventually resort to chemical weed killer as the only option to get on top of things again.
Making sure that your hedges and shrubs are trimmed and pruned regularly to promote healthy growth means you don’t have to resort to heavy doses of fertilisers to try and bring them back to life.
Regularly improving your soil by adding good quality fertiliers to build them up, regularly topping up your mulch – all these things are part of creating a healthy, resilient garden that looks beautiful… naturally.
If you would like to look after your garden in a more natural, organic way, get in touch with us to book in a service and our gardeners can provide a regular maintenance plan, advise on soil improvement, mulching and anything else they recommend to make your garden healthy and happy as organically as possible.
Whether you’re a total newbie, or a garden geek, gardening presents challenges in WA — invasive weeds, dry climate, and sandy soil are just a few.
So, what’s the best solution?
Although a great garden takes time and skill, one simple trick can help improve the health of your plants and soil straight away.
What is this? Mulch!
This humble garden staple can be a game-changer.
For inexperienced gardeners, choosing mulch can feel intimidating.
We’re here to help with the low-down on the best mulch for gardens!
Best Mulch for Gardens
Mulch may be the magic silver bullet that takes your garden to the next level! There are so many benefits to mulching in your garden. It can:
retain moisture, reduce watering
protect plants during heatwaves
counteract dry, sandy soil
improve soil structure/nutrients
reduce soil erosion
attract friendly garden guests like bees, ladybirds and spiders for pest control/pollination
slow down weed growth creating a protective layer
recycle food/garden waste!
So, now you know why mulch is important! Now let’s choose the best mulch for you!
Wood Chip Mulch
Made from tree cuttings, wood chip mulch is a great “all-purpose” go-to.
Many consider it the best mulch for shrubs and trees, particularly fruiting ones. It looks good, is easy to lay, and is economical.
Do wood chips have a downside?
Some gardeners worry about “nitrogen drawn-down” — (wood chip mulch leaching nitrogen from the soil).
This fear is mostly based on urban myth — in fact, wood chip mulch increases soil nutrients. Minor nitrogen draw-down doesn’t affect deeply-rooted plants like fruit trees. However, avoid wood chip mulch for shallow-rooted plants like veggies.
Woodchip mulch safety tips
Woodchip mulch can be a fire hazard in some circumstances, especially given Perth’s high temperatures. Don’t layer it too thick — 2-10cm is ideal.
Store mulch in a cool, shady place, and check regularly to ensure it isn’t overheating. Avoid mulching thickly around tree trunks — in bushfire season this can be hazardous.
Shredded Pine Bark Mulch
This is our favourite – we think this is the best mulch!
Shredded bark mulch helps block weed shoots from sunlight, helps retain moisture, and enriches soil nutrients. Pine bark is also great for Perth gardens, it’s rusty red colour looks great, while it’s chunky cut allows water to get through to the roots, and it even helps improve the quality of the soil itself.
Bark nuggets last longer than wood chips, but their slow decomposition may attract carpenter ants so keep on top of pest control!
Tips for using shredded bark mulch
When spreading shredded bark, keep it away from tree trunks to avoid rot and rodent damage. Watch for extreme weather — strong winds, rain or flooding may mean re-laying mulch.
Which Mulch should you avoid? Black Mulch never gets our vote as the best mulch – some people choose it because they like the look, and it does create a great contrast, but it is very fibrous, which means it actually absorbs water, reducing the amount that will actually penetrate and get through to your plants. It also does very little to help improve the soil, and doesn’t last as long as Pine Bark.
Recycled mulches are made from various materials, including recycled rubber or timber. They can lower your garden’s carbon footprint, so may be the best mulch for eco-conscious gardeners.
Pallet/timber mulch is long-lasting, retainsmoisture, and is usually eco-friendly. However, check how contamination is managed — it may be tainted by chemicals or toxins.
Rubber mulch repels pests, insects and weeds, and provides a ‘soft fall’ in play areas. It is long-lasting, won’t decompose and reduces mould/fungal growth.
Safety tip: some rubber mulch releases chemicals in hot weather. Look for a non-toxic brand.
Hay mulch is a well-kept secret we’re letting you in on…
Hay is grass cut while still green — it contains lots of moisture.
Many believe it’s the best mulch for flower and veggie gardens — it blocks weeds, and delivers nutrients to the soil as it composts.
This is especially good for seedlings.
How to use hay as mulch
Buy quality hay to minimise weeds. Ideally, spread hay approximately 20cm deep.
Lucerne hay is probably the best mulch for gardens with roses, fruit trees and vegetables. It provides extra nitrogen when decomposing.
Straw mulch is lighter than hay, so weeds come through more easily, but takes longer to decompose and looks better than hay.
Try combininghay and straw. Start with a deep layer of hay to retain moisture and provide nutrients. Top with a light layer of straw.
Leaf Mulch and Compost
Leaves can be a fantastic addition to other mulch.
You can shred dry leaves with your lawnmower and spread them on top of gardens, add leaves to compost or dig them into soil.
Using grass cuttings as mulch is simple — after mowing, spread clippings across garden beds, then wait!
Grass mulch cools the root zone, conserves moisture, and restores nutrients, especially nitrogen.
Grass clippings can also be spread on your lawn to keep it healthy.
Rock and Gravel Mulch
We don’t normally think of rocks or gravel as mulch — but they can be!
Rocks and gravel:
prevent excess drainage and erosion
create a classy look
last (almost) forever.
cost less than organic mulches and
unlike organic mulch, will not attract insect pests.
Note: rock/gravel mulch will not enrich soil, is difficult to remove once installed, and harder to put new plants in.
How to use rock and gravel mulch
Rocks and gravel suit decorative formal gardens as they don’t decompose. They are often used where plants are permanently established.
Leave roughly a 5cm gap around the base of plants/trees.
To combine with other mulch, lay organic mulch first, then top with rocks!
BONUS MULCH TIPS:
Weedmat isn’t technically mulch, but helps protect your garden from weeds and to retain moisture.
Ideal for fruit and veggie gardens, it can protect crops on vines like melons and pumpkins from decay.
For best results, place the weed mat between soil and mulch.
Compost is also important, but unlike mulch is dug into the soil to provide nutrients and hydration.
Compost can be made from:
Ingredients are put in a compost tumbler, garbage bag or heap, to decompose. Water, ‘compost starter’ and regular turning all help the process.
The best compost is around three parts “dry”, and one part “wet”. If it’s too dry, add water, or wet ingredients like fresh grass. If too wet, add dry materials like newspaper or straw.
Health & Safety Tips When Handling Mulch or Compost
Wear a mask and gloves when handling organic/recycled mulch/potting mix, particularly for those with chronic health conditions. They can contain Legionella bacteria, fungal spores or toxins that may be dangerous if they are disturbed and become airborne.
Other safety precautions include storing potting mix and mulch where it’s cool, and washing hands thoroughly after use. To avoid inhaling particles, open bags carefully and keep mulch/compost damp.
As the weather changes, trees and plants can come under stress. During these times, it’s crucial to know how to take care of your precious fruit trees.
An important part of this is pruning your fruit trees.
For inexperienced gardeners, pruning can feel intimidating — once a branch is pruned, there’s no going back! However, it doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems.
As part of our regular garden maintenance services, we prune a lot of citrus and fruit trees in Perth, citrus fruit trees seem to be especially popular with our clients. So we thought we would provide a few tips on how to take care of them through proper pruning!
In this blog post, we’ll run you through some essentials you need to know to keep your fruit trees pruned, healthy and happy along with a few of our “garden geek” tips.
Why Should You Prune Fruit Trees?
Pruning your fruit trees is important to ensure trees stay healthy and happy. This is particularly true during winter for most types of fruit trees.
Essentially, the pruning process is about promoting growth for your trees. Branches that you cut back will re-grow, in turn encouraging the tree to produce more fruit.
Pruning also helps the tree’s general health and can make it more aesthetically pleasing.
Pruning trees helps to:
develop and maintain ideal tree shape and size
allow more sunlight into the centre of the tree
improve air circulation around leaves and branches
reduce the risk of disease
remove dead branches — these can harm the tree and become a safety hazard!
When Is The Best Time For Pruning Fruit Trees?
There are several types of pruning and many types of fruit trees. Pruning is recommended at different times of the year depending on the climate, why you are pruning, and the type of fruit tree.
In most cases fruit trees are pruned in winter, or early spring, when the tree is dormant (not actively growing).
In Perth dormant pruning is typically performed in the colder months (June to August).
This type of pruning aims to protect the structure of a mature tree, or help a young tree form a basic shape. It stops branches from crowding together or crossing over one another.
Dead, diseased or broken branches can also be removed. These are not just unsightly, they drain the plant’s energy!
Summer pruning is often done around December in Perth, to keep vigorous trees to a manageable size.
Summer pruning is also useful to maintain a pleasing shape.
The other reason for summer pruning is that some types of fruit trees, like apricots and cherries, become more disease prone if pruned in winter.
During Summer pruning, you usually remove any suckers (shoots that grow low down on the trunk). These often grow as a response to compromised roots.
Cut them as low as possible to discourage reshooting. This helps to conserve the tree’s energy for more productive growth.
Inner-facing branches are removed to improve sunlight and airflow to the centre of the tree. Other branches can be shortened, both to balance the tree’s appearance and to prevent them getting too long and thin – these types of branches are prone to breakage when loaded with fruit.
Other seasonal preferences:
Citrus – prune tips all year round as needed
Figs – prune in winter
Apples and pears – deciduous trees are pruned while dormant
Grapes – prune hard in winter, trim in the warm months
The life cycle of a fruit tree
How often you should prune also depends on the age of the tree.
Pruning in year one is to form the tree’s shape and encourage growth. Trim the central trunk down to where there is an outward-facing bud, about 75cms above ground.
The next year remove inward-facing branches and lower shoots. Reduce upward shoots by half to allow for new branches.
By year three your fruit tree will have its shape. Cut the best branches in half – this strengthens the tree to carry fruit.
By year four you won’t need to prune heavily after fruiting. Large branches can be reduced by one-third and the top pruned to keep the height manageable.
After five years, pruning your mature tree once a year after fruiting is all that’s needed.
If you want to hand over the fruit tree pruning to the professionals, have a look at our tree pruning services and get in touch.
What Tools Do You Need to Prune Fruit Trees?
When pruning fruit trees, your main tool will probably be sharp secateurs. You might also use a tree lopping tool for larger branches, or a pruning saw if making major structural changes.
Before pruning, and even between pruning individual trees, disinfect the blades of tools you use with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water (don’t make it any stronger!)
This removes traces of tree sap and other contaminants, reducing the risk of disease being carried from tree to tree by tools.
How To Prune Fruit Trees — A Step-by-Step Guide
Now that you understand the “why” and have all the tools you need, it’s time to learn the steps to a perfect pruning.
Step 1: Clean Up the Deadwood
Firstly, examine your tree for branches that are dead or broken. These can be a hazard during extreme weather and a danger to your tree, encouraging disease and stunting growth. Cut these away to help your tree (and your property) stay healthy!
Step 2: Trim out Sprouts and Suckers
Your next step is to trim unnecessary growth like water sprouts and suckers.
Water sprouts are vertical growths caused by stress or damage — for example, from severe weather, soil compaction, drought, or disease.
Growing from dormant, buried buds in the bark, water sprouts appear on the trunk and branches of a tree, sapping the tree’s energy. They can ruin its shape, allowing pathogens and disease in and weakening an otherwise strong structure.
Suckers look similar, but grow around the base of the tree from the root system, stealing nutrients and ruining the ‘look’ of a tree. They’re also best removed to conserve the tree’s energy.
Step 3: Cut Back and Thin Out
At this point, it’s time to begin the main job.
First, thin out the branches of your fruit tree to allow more light and air into the canopy. This will help your tree produce more fruit!
Next, cut back any wayward branches running sideways, downwards or crowding over each other.
Step back and take a look at your tree. If branches are spaced out evenly and spreading out from the middle of the tree, then you’re golden.
If you can still see branches competing or crossing over each other, check if any are growing from the same spot or next to each other from different points on the tree.
In either case, keep the healthiest branch with the best angle from the tree (branches should sit at approx. two o’clock or ten o’clock position). Remove the weaker competing branch.
Finish up your thinning out process by giving all branches around 15-30cm of air space. (Smaller branches can be left a little closer together.)
Step 4: Topping and Skirting
Another aspect to pruning fruit trees is topping and skirting.
Pruning the top of a tree to make it easier to harvest from is controversial. It is best to only do this when necessary (for example to help a tree recover from storm damage) and if you are confident the tree can recover.
Topping trees can lead to unbalanced root-to-crown ratio, disturbing the tree’s ability to produce energy and photosynthesise. A tree may also be shocked by topping and grow erratically. These problems can lead to tree death.
This is the process of cutting back branches hanging low to the ground. Well-developed trees should be skirted to about 75cm above ground level, leaving enough room for the branches to droop a little when bearing fruit, without dragging on the ground.
Step 5: Heading Back
Heading back is the process of shortening a branch or new shoot to encourage growth, and is performed on the outer edges of the tree. Think of this as giving the tree a haircut!
Heading back keeps a tree looking neat, and helps branches grow solid and strong.
For best results, cut back approx. 20-30% of last year’s growth — this could be anywhere between 5cm and 1.5m depending on the tree type and maturity.
Fruit Tree Pruning Shapes
For an extra special touch, shape your fruit trees in a way that suits the overall look of your garden. This will make your trees look well-cared for and give your garden a consistent aesthetic.
Natural shaping is a “hands-off” philosophy that says that a fruit tree will fruit quicker and more strongly if left without pruning. Those who are fans of natural gardening techniques may prefer this option.
Trees can grow very tall using this method, and fruit may be difficult to harvest. Suckers and sprouts may also become a problem.
The “open center” shape is best suited to stone fruit such as plum, nectarine, apricot or cherry trees. This may also be referred to as a “vase shape”.
Often, stone fruit will grow this way naturally to begin with — in this case, select three to five of the strongest branches as a foundation and prune away any branches that cross over or compete with each other.
If your tree is shaped differently, prune branches into the vase shape described by choosing the strongest branches as a basis.
Prune branches in a way that leaves open space at the centre of the tree — this lets in more light and allows for better airflow.
A central leader shape is where the central trunk or “leader” forms the basis of the tree’s shape.
The central leader is emphasised by pruning all branches on the lower section of the trunk. To achieve this, trim all branches from around 9m down to the soil level.